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Blue Stars instead of Gold ones

On November eighth I joined about a hundred people at the new Veterans Cemetery at the corner of Milner and Lake Prince Drive … a resting place named for Albert G. Horton Jr.

Among those attending were the mayors of Suffolk and Portsmouth, Gen. Aaron Lilley, and Sgt. Matthew Samlick from Fort Story. The ceremony was to dedicate a memorial of sorts … a Blue Star By-Way Marker. It is there due to the efforts of members of the Suffolk and Portsmouth areas Council of Garden Clubs, plus all members of the Tidewater District of the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs.

The Brass Quintet of the United States Army Band at Fort Munroe provided music.

I was invited and went without knowing exactly what the memorial really stood for. This Blue Star By-Way Marker is the third placed in the Tidewater area and I was curious as to its importance. But then I remembered that back in 1941 the parents of anyone in the military could display a small white flag with a bright red border and a blue star in the middle that represented their son or daughter was off to join the war. It was always displayed in a street-side window where passersby would see it. It was an item of pride for every family, and there were millions of them with kids in the World War II.

My mother had two blue stars and some families had more. Each of them prayed that those blue stars would never have to be exchanged for one colored gold … meaning a son or daughter had been killed or died while in service.

The Star idea, through the efforts of many people, now will be used for all wars. For most folks, having a child in the military is still a reason to be proud.

We were fortunate; both my kid brother and I came home. But I know that at least three families in our small town sadly changed blue for gold. Everyone at the ceremony knew what that meant when the concluding Taps were played.

A photo to remember

Even the above-described ceremony had a humorous side for me. There is a lot of &uot;please rise&uot; and &uot;be seated,&uot; and for me, with my sometimes cane and 80 years, it is simply not easy.

I managed for the invocation, presenting the colors, etc., and then decided it best I remain seated.

Then, when Mayor Holley counted three and pulled the covering off the memorial, I sat with camera poised for that historic moment. But a split second before I pushed the button for the shot, a large person in the next row popped up with a camera and I got a picture that will probably appear to be a billboard.

Feeling somewhat young

I wasn’t the oldest person there, and I was in much better shape than the old duffer sitting next to me. He is 97 and said he’s had had two bypass surgeries,

hip and knee replacements, and is fighting diabetes. I gulped when he told me he was scheduled for both prostate and cataract removal. He said he could hardly feel his hands and feet anymore, poor circulation. And he’d lost all his friends, lost his glasses, but was glad he still had his driver’s license.

Are you ready to go?

I picked up one of the Veteran Cemetery handouts that turned out to be a &uot;Pre-Application to be buried in the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Veterans Cemetery at Hampton Roads,

– 5310 Milners Road, Suffolk, Va. 23434 in case you are interested.

All they need is a legible copy of your military discharge and proof you are a resident of Virginia. You will also need a copy of your marriage license if your wife also wishes to be there.

On the back of the form there are 29 authorized religions, one of which can be on the headstone. Imagine, 29 symbols including one for &uot;atheist.&uot; But there is none for &uot;agnostic,&uot; so, if you haven’t yet, you’d better make up your mind.

Poor Charles Darwin

I think it’s sad what they are saying about Charles Darwin; most everyone has accepted what he’s been saying for a very long time. And he believes he has proven completely everything he has written or said over these many years.

The statements in his books have never really been challenged until just a few months ago when some upstarts claim his theory is incomplete and inconsistent with intelligent thinking … things simply could not be as he has claimed, even though scholars have never denied any part of his contentions.

His wife, Mrs. Darwin, says her husband, who had retired, has had his feelings badly hurt and he’s back out in his workshop, dissecting frogs.

Dismal odds

Congressman Forbes, who, incidentally did a super job at the Veterans ceremony at Cedar Hill, secured a cool million to enhance the Great Dismal Swamp. How do you enhance the swamp; is that your question?

Well, $850,000 is for continued operation of the Dismal Swamp Canal Route. (Thousands use it) Most of this is for dredging, maintenance and routine operation costs for 2006 … and the other $150,000 is for a study of flooding in that place.

At first I thought this taxpayer money was for a Dismal Visitor Center to be constructed across from our Hilton. Suffolk’s tourism director has pursued this dream for many months. In fact, Forbes was handed $68,000 for lobbying a few years back, hoping to take the Visitor Center away from Chesapeake and North Carolina. Is it still alive for Suffolk? The odds are bad.

Robert Pocklington is a Suffolk resident and regular contributor to the News-Herald. Contact him at robert.pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com